Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Tola Gilbert - July 25, 1983

Dealing with the Russians

And finally one day--oh, and uh, in the meantime we're sitting in the camp and what happened at night like in our room, I give you an example. One night we are sleeping and uh, the girl that was sleeping uh, next to me says, "Tola, somebody's in the room." And I look and in the dark what could you see? Nothing. And I said, "Nobody's in the room, sleep, Rosa." And then from nowhere we heard from the other side of the room, "Mama!" So my coat--a housecoat--I didn't have my coat, it was hanging on a hook on my bed--on my bunk bed. And I picked up my coat and I put on, on myself and uh, I--my bed was like here and the light was like here. Here was the door, see? So I went from my bed and turned on the light and I see a big Russian standing in the middle of the room and I got so scared that my ears were ringing. And uh, I saw that he's terribly, terribly drunk. And he goes and stands up on the two lower bunk beds, he stands up and talks to the girls on top. You know how he stood up.

He was standing on the bunk, yeah.

And uh, the young girl, that Gisella, a little crazy, started to talk to him. In the meantime all the girls from the bottom bunk beds went up. Soon they saw him standing there on the floor. How stupid, they thought that they are safer on that bunk beds--upper bed, I mean, upper bun--and I am standing alone on the floor. He's standing over that Gisella and start to go already here and there. And that girl that said that she--somebody's in the room was already on the upper bed next to that Gisella. So he was standing like, and she was in this bed and Gisella was here. And he says to her--and she said to me--she got up from that bed, got scared of him and this was a double bunk. So she started to run and she said to me in Polish, she says, "Tola go and make this, this," in Polish, she said to the Kommandantur, and he understood because Polish is very--many things are similar to Russian. And he got down from that, these bunk beds and he pulled out his gun and started to scream ???. He's going to shoot her. "She's going reporting me, your liberator and to the Germans you are giving and to us you don't want to," you know, he wants sex. And he was screaming so that his, his saliva was coming out. He was so angry. He was maneuvering with his body, with his hands, screaming. On our little stove, which we hardly used, we were staying--we were getting ready to move on. So we prepared--somehow we got some gauze, a piece of gauze was laying there and water in the--in jars, because water we drank, you know. And he must have been wounded. When he started to shake his body and his hands move around I saw that blood is coming through his band-aid. And I don't know what got into me, I swear to you, I know that I was so scared of him, like anything. And I was still on the floor. I had no place to go. All the beds--the bunk beds were taken and the lower beds was the ???. I laid down, I was better--safer standing. And I took that band-aid and I unband-aid his hand and I wiped the blood off and put the fresh band-aid on him. And he screams. He doesn't even know what I am doing. And suddenly he took a look. And he says to me in Russian, "What are you doing?" And I said, "You were bleeding see?" and I showed him that band-aid, the dirty one. It was soaking black with blood. You know and he said, "Oh," and he said, "I don't mean to harm you. I really don't. I just want to sleep." So I said, "Come on, I'll show you where to sleep." And I open the door and show him, see there the first room is completely empty. You know why? Because it was the closest to the Russians, so the girls run out of that room. Anyhow, I want you to know that soon, he just picked himself up and left the room. And right away we built barricades. Whatever was in our room was against the door. But they went to other girls too and it was terrible until the, until the Czechoslovakian--the underground--we were running around naked in the yards, we were so scared and screaming. And somebody must have heard and reported this. And they came in and called the, the Kommandantur of the Russians, and the Russians came in and they took him away. And when we traveled home--when the trains were ready for us and we started to travel. And I tell you every few hours the trains got stopped, was standing, couldn't get through. More important things had to go through. And we had to intervene with the, with the Russians. We have chosen our committee, I was one of them too and we used to go to the Kommandantur and uh, beg them to ship us. Our legs were so swollen, we had no food, no, no water, it was terrible. We would come to a station, we would run for water. Uh, the trains were going long hours and uh, we come to Zywiec, which was in Poland already and they are sending trains I don't know, with spirit--you know what spirit is? Very strong whiskey.


I don't know any other name for it. In Polish it says spiritus. And uh, they, who are the watchmen? Guess. Nobody there but the Russians and drunk like anything. Anyhow, so we had to stay there and they wouldn't leave us alone. They were bothering us immen...immensely. As a matter of fact, even my little sister, some with the, with the, this uh, eyes like a Cossack or whoever he was, he wouldn't leave her alone, we had to cover her up with a blankets so he wouldn't see her and he would leave her alone. Um, finally we reached the destination in my hometown. And the greetings we got, I told you about.

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